Poland and World Exhibition EXPO-2017 in Astana

10.11.2016 Wladyslaw Sokolowski

Traditional sources of energy such as coal, petroleum, or gas, will sooner or later deplete. Contemporary technologies of their extraction and processing are going to get outdated as well. A human being’s desire to live in a more secure and clearer environment leads us to the new, perhaps presently understudied or unknown, methods of providing us with heat, light and power. Although search and exploitation of new sources of energy, including renewable ones (sun, wind, tides), is a competitive process, there is a space for cooperation between nations. Too often we ignore the message of Prometheus and seek the more and more dangerous tools to obtain fuel. And once we get them, by truly Promethean sacrifices, we jealously keep it away from everyone, while simultaneously wasting what has been given to us by the Earth and the Sun. Driven by an atavistic fear of the cold and dark, we build plans for a better, richer life, which are based on vague, deceptive visions of energy security. The nations that lack any known (and accessible) energy resources, feel endangered. At times the threats led to devastating wars, while sometimes they pushed the endeavors that proved fruitful, even salvaging for the humanity. The countries that are netto importers of energy, seek effective strategies of defense in the face of pressure from the exporters’ governments. Those in possession of their own resources strive to maintain their monopolies and therefore do not engage in searching new sources of energy.

Kazakhstan, which has declared “Future Energy” the theme of its bid to host the EXPO 2017, is a rare exclusion. Controlling significant (4% of global) reserves of oil, uranium (12%), gas (2%), and coal, the country that continually explores its potential in oil drilling (especially on the Caspian shelf) and uranium processing, is not only becoming a major player at the European and Chinese fuel markets but also actively develops non-conventional energy sector at home. A few years ago a production of bioethanol was launched in the Tainshy district of the Northern Kazakhstan Oblast, which is a nation’s breadbasket, in addition to being “Little Poland” following the deportations by Stalin. In cooperation with UNDP Kazakhstan is implementing a program of promoting wind power. “Wind farms” are to rise soon in the southern Zhambyl Oblast. Usage of solar energy and that of the geothermal waters is increasing as well.

Kazakhs believe that putting forward the issues of future energy at the 5th Astana Economic Forum and then at the EXPO 2017, will help attract new technologies and serious investments that would diminish the country’s dependence on export of traditional energy sources. At the same time debating future energy enhances peaceful cooperation and understanding between the peoples. The Prometheus’ sacrifice should not remain a mere legend.

The issue was part of the discussions at the Astana Economic Forum, where nobelists Robert Aumann (2005) and Eric Muskin (2007), prominent US economists Jeremy Rifkin and Alex Ignatiev, and other notable experts took part.

The Kazakh project’s logo represents the Sun – a symbol for and a source of energy, while rainbow-like asymmetrical petals remind of motion and power. Combined, this is connected to the new energy industry.

On 22 November 2012 at the 152nd general meeting of the Bureau of International Exhibitions in Paris, delegates from 157 countries was decided the host city of EXPO 2017. Kazakhstan is ready to offer 1.5 billion USD to arrange and host the exhibition. In case of winning the right, the exhibition complex on 133 hectares, which is being projected in a yurta-like shape, would host 93 pavilions. The complex may become a logical continuation, and according to some architects, a gem in the giant project of raising a 21st century city in the middle of the Steppe, which is known for its bold, stunning architecture, and wide application of new technologies and city-planning know-how, including environmentally-conscious ones.

We can find some remarks on “Aqmola” (Aq Mola – “White Temple”, a city on the bank of Ishim river, today: Astana), as a capital of Kazakhs in Adolf Januszkiewcz’s “Letters from Syberia” from 1842-43. He was a friend of Adam Mickiewicz and an inspiration for the character of Adolf in the 3rd part of the “Dziady” drama (Adolf Januszkiewicz, Dnevniki i pis’ma iz puteshestviya po kazakhskim stepyam, Amanat, Almaty, 2005).